U of I parents balance academics and childcare

U of I parents balance academics and childcare (WCCU)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCCU) — For some college students, studying for exams and paying for tuition is enough to worry about.

Now add a child into the mix.

College students who are also parents don’t always have child care options available.

If you don’t go to class, you don’t pass, but there may be a day when a babysitter is unavailable.

So, what would you do?

“I will do everything I can to try to remove obstacles to help all of my students,” said University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Adjunct Lecturer Steve Raquel.

This isn’t just an ordinary photo of a man holding a baby. It’s Raquel holding his student’s baby. It’s quickly gone viral.

“It was nice; it was very much a surprise,” said Raquel.

He said he wanted to help out a student who’s babysitter fell through. So, he simply asked…

“Do you mind if I hold your baby, so you can take some notes?” he said.

Raquel lectured while holding the baby for about an hour. He said the mother wants to remain private, but is thankful for the support.

“She’s just been appreciative that I’m flexible enough to allow her to have the baby in class if she needs it,” he said.

Raquel said students tell him ahead of time about their situation. So, if a parent has to bring their child to class, he’s OK with it.

“If she is a single mom who wants to come to class and wants to get an education, then I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen,” he said.

Natasha Mables can relate. She has a two-year-old daughter, named Natalya. Mables is pursuing a master’s degree in social work.

“I did also inform my professor for the class. I have this upcoming weekend that there might be a time that I bring my daughter to class,” she said.

The Early Child Development Laboratory (ECDL) on campus doubles as a school and daycare center. Mables said she’s been on the waitlist since last April.

“I have yet to get contacted back by any staff there,” she said. “So, I’m assuming that she’s still on the waitlist.”

Mables said if Natalya was enrolled at ECDL, it would make things easier.

“To drop her off here and literally walk across the street for class would be very, very convenient,” she said.

Mables admits the journey can be challenging at times, but she said it’s possible to go to school, work and be a parent full-time.

“It does help to have supportive faculty and staff here and classmates as well,” she said.

We reached out to ECDL to see if they offer parents who are also students a discount, but didn’t hear back from them.

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